Have you received an e-mail lately similar to the one
(Grammar and punctuation unaltered.)
"We want to transfer to a foreign bank account one hundred and
twenty six million United States Dollars from a Prime Bank in
my country, I want to ask you, if you are not capable. To quietly
look for a reliable and honest person who will be capable and
fit to provide either an existing bank account or to set up a
Bank a/c immediately to receive this money, as long as you will
remain honest to me till the end for this important business trusting
in you and believing in God that you will be honest and never
let me down now or in the future."
"You are the first and only trusting person that I am contacting
for this business, so send your private telephone and fax number
including the full details of the account and a valid passport
and drivers license."
"At the conclusion of this business, you will be given 35% of
the total amount."
Wow!!! I could stop here and we would have a good
lesson in ethics.
I am saving these e-mails just for fun and have received
86 so far. It makes me wonder why they keep coming. Note that the
words "honest" and "trust" appear several times.
Ethics has quickly become today's most critical business
and professional concern. Look around. It seems as though for every
organization or individual receiving an ethical award, there's another
being charged with some type of impropriety. And this has led more
than a few to conclude that we are in the middle of an ethics crisis.
Two facts are undeniable:
- There are some serious problems out there.
- It's absolutely imperative that AAPG and
its members don't get caught up in them.
The vast majority of geoscientists are honorable;
however, I have encountered misbehavior too often in my career.
I came to the decision a while back that I would not stay in business
unless I could find honest and trustworthy partners.
The issue of ethics in our personal and business
activity is constantly in the papers; you hear about it on the evening
news; it's plastered on industry publications and legal journals.
Almost everyone is talking about it — almost everywhere you turn,
it's front-page news.
There is a lot of discussion going on in AAPG about
the subject. What is the role of the association in setting standards
and addressing the image of our profession?
The following are some suggested action items:
- AAPG will conduct a mini-summit in February
to review our Code of
Ethics and to examine additional initiatives to create heightened
awareness. How can we better enforce the Code?
- Establish a short course on ethics, to
be designed by the geosciences department and a special committee
that I have established. The purpose will be to encourage members
to demand ethical behavior of their colleagues — and practice
- A sub-committee of the Distinguished Lecture
Committee has been formed to design and implement a distinguished
lecture tour on ethics. We already may have a high level corporate
executive to deliver this.
- Compile specific instances of ethical activities
and ethical practices (case histories) for reinstallation of this
once-popular series in the EXPLORER. Also, publish a booklet on
- AAPG's standing Committee on Ethics is
charged with addressing complaints from members. The committee's
actions should be vigorously supported, but complaints need to
be backed by documentation and not based on hearsay, grudges and
Finally, we should all take heart in the fact that
codes of ethics, ethics programs and the special departments —
corporations and associations — don't make the ultimate decisions
Ethical choices are made by INDIVIDUALS.
"Honesty is the cornerstone of all success, without
which confidence and ability to perform cease to exist."
— Mary Kay Ash
"With the present climate of popular distrust for institutions
in our society, there is a magnificent opportunity for AAPG to restore
some faith and confidence in the American enterprise system in general,
and the oil and gas industry in particular … "
— Victor Yannacone Jr.